Topic Author
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2000 7:10 am

Descent Clearance

Wed Feb 27, 2002 2:47 am

Can anyone help?

When an aircraft has been cleared to follow a particular STAR can the pilot automaically assume he has descent clearance to the lowest altitude on that STAR, or does he/she need to be given a specific clearance to an altitiude.

Some STARS contain a phrase like 'altitudes for descent planning only actual clearance will be given by atc' but some don't

Many thanks
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Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2000 1:18 am

RE: Descent Clearance

Wed Feb 27, 2002 2:56 am

ATC has to actually clear you for your descent unless the STAR actually says "after (fix name), cleared to 3000 feet".... many departure procedures have this feature.... most STARs Ive seen have "expect clearance for lower altitude" which does not clear you to that altitude, just says you can expect it.
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Posts: 1282
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2001 7:54 pm

RE: Descent Clearance

Wed Feb 27, 2002 2:56 am

No usually he can't! Because maybe he is not the only one approachan a field via this STAR. Most STARs lead to a holding so the chance of a collosion would be to high if everybody is allowed to descent on his own consideration.
If he is cleared for an standard Instrument approach the pilot may descent to the final approach altitude.

regards Bjoern
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2002 11:46 am

RE: Descent Clearance

Wed Feb 27, 2002 6:12 am

If the controller uses the wording "descend via" before the name of the STAR you are cleared to the altitudes on the STAR. Otherwise it is the ground track only and altitudes are as assigned by ATC.
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Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2002 4:33 am

RE: Descent Clearance

Wed Feb 27, 2002 6:27 am

Most STAR's have "expect" instructions for individual fixes, therefore it is up to to ATC to clear the aircraft to lower altitudes as they proceed along the STAR. There are just a few STAR's that have hard altitude depictions, I believe that the CIVET arrival into LAX is such a STAR; in this case the clearance would be "cleared direct CIVET, descend via the CIVET6, maintain eight thousand". So, you see, even in these instances where altitudes are depicted on the STAR there is still a minimum altitude to maintain and there is no landing clearance.

Many STAR's expect information are not entirely accurate. I know that the DARBY arrival into SDF states for non-turbojets to expect DARBY at eight thousand and that is rarely the case unless they have conflicting turbojet traffic also on the STAR. The GUITR arrival into BNA does not state that turbojet pilots should expect GROAT at sixteen thousand and non-turbojets should expect GROAT at twelve thousand, and those are constant and steadfast clearances. The SWEED arrival into CVG does not state to expect to cross DRESR at FL240 but that is always the clearance. In fact the GROAT crossing into BNA was installed back when American had a hub there and was never taken out of the Letter of Agreement between Indy Center and Memphis Center. So even though there is not much traffic into BNA we still have that over-restriction and it would be nice if it was on the Terminal Procedures STAR depiction page so that new pilots into BNA wouldn't act like the world is coming to an end everytime that they are issued that clearance.
I'm not joking! This is my job!
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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2000 10:55 am

RE: Descent Clearance

Wed Feb 27, 2002 9:58 am

Ha....I asked the captain this question about a week ago and he just shrugged his shoulders. In my experience, I haven't come across STAR's like this much, usually flying into smaller airports. I have been doing the ACORD2 from YVR to BFI a lot lately but ATC never seemed to go by the mandatory altitude on the chart. So it was my leg and I just couldn't bring myself to start down without having the radio operator (captain) ask for lower....he was about to and we got "descend via the ACORD2" and we both laughed at the way ATC had unknowingly answered our question. Having flown that route a few times I don't ever recall the controller saying those exact words....we had been just "cleared for the arrival" many times. So...hearing those exact words to descend via the arrival is very important.
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RE: Descent Clearance

Wed Feb 27, 2002 10:10 am

Departures, on the other hand, seem to assume flying at published altitudes unless the controller issues another. I got chastised by a controller, while departing Hobby, for asking if "you still want us at 3"? Seems that 3,000 was the published altitude and that was that.

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